Twitter users agree: Democracy sucks (according to an automatic opinion survey)

I recently started following @AmplicateTL after it invaded a hashtag I was watching. It turns out that it’s an automated tracker from a service called Amplicate. Amplicate seeks to:

“collect similar opinions in one place making them more likely to be found by people and companies”.

It seems to do this primarily by browsing Twitter and picking up on feelings and emotions expressed about a whole range of topics. This is interesting, as it can flag up when positives or negatives are expressed about a brand, service or individual, making monitoring easier and identifying trends. Unfortunately, it’s well-known that people are more likely to express a negative opinion than a positive one, so whether Amplicate accounts for this is unclear.

The service also appears to pick up and tweet positive or negative trends automatically – which is why this afternoon, it had picked up on the trend that people “hate democracy“. Along with this sentiment, the service generates a landing page (screengrab) that offers the option of agreeing with this statement and even automatically generating badges for blogs and website with an “I hate democracy” motif.

Whilst it is true that even former Prime Minster Winston Churchill proclaimed democracy the least, worst option (more or less), I wonder how much the Amplicate owners want to associate themselves with this statement. It’s telling though that one of the opinions that (automatically) contributed to this feeling was “Chinese democracy sucks”. But, on closer inspection, this tweet is actually about the Guns N’ Roses album (or song) Chinese Democracy (if you’d also never heard of it, there’s a clip below from Wikipedia.).

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Listen on posterous

Will we ever get to a point when an algorithm can analyse a tweet in such detail, and deduce an overall opinion? I think so, but until then, picking out keywords from Twitter is an imprecise – and fraught-ridden – method for proclaiming popular opinion. Something PR firms would be well-advised to steer clear of.

What do you think? Would you use a service like Amplicate to track your brand, or is it simply too full of noise? Leave a comment below.

Posted via email from @technicalfault